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From the stands to the start line: Erica Hawley buzzing for WTCS Bermuda debut

Momentous occasion: Erica Hawley is relishing the prospect of competing in the elite field of the World Triathlon Championship Series Bermuda for the first time (Photograph by Aaron Smith)

Erica Hawley admitted the prospect of racing in the Elite Women’s field in World Triathlon Championship Series Bermuda gives her goose bumps.

Having been among the crowd watching on as Flora Duffy swept down the blue carpet in a dominant victory back in 2018, the 24-year-old is now preparing to compete against her compatriot on home soil at the elite level for the first time.

While Hawley is aware of the daunting task at hand, competing amid a stellar field, she remains hopeful that the passionate home crowd expected to line the streets throughout Hamilton can give her the required boost.

“This is only my second WTCS event, the last was a sprint event in 2018, and so this is definitely a step up for me to race at this level,” she said. “It is exciting but also makes me a little nervous. I’m really hoping that the Bermuda crowds will carry me through the race.

“I was a spectator here back in the 2018 race and I remember watching Flora lead from start to finish — and the crowds were unreal. From being a spectator then to now gives me goose bumps to think about actually competing on the course and having all of Bermuda supporting and cheering me on.”

As well as inspiration from the home crowd, Hawley can take confidence from an encouraging year of performances, which has included a first podium in the elite women’s Continental Cup, finishing third, a sixteenth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games and eighth at the Americas Championships in Montevideo, Uruguay, last weekend.

She also has the added incentive of crucial points being on offer in her quest to qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris, France, in 2024.

“Trying to qualify for the Olympic Games is definitely the goal,” added Hawley, who also joined Duffy, Tyler Smith, and Tyler Butterfield in Bermuda’s mixed relay team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in August, finishing seventh.

“Both Tyler [Smith] and I have hopes of that and we are both on the Asics World Triathlon development team, which helps us to try and achieve those goals.

“It was a great experience [racing at the Commonwealth Games]. It is always an honour representing Bermuda and to be able to do that at a major Games is really special.

“Being able to be part of a Bermuda relay team is something I never thought we would be able to do, but now we are able to compete at such a high level and that is pretty inspiring. In the relay, it was great to be part of the same team and really special.”

Despite alliances being put to one side as Hawley prepares to compete against Duffy tomorrow, she spoke of continually being inspired by the Olympic champion.

“I’ll have to race against Flora this weekend, which is pretty intimidating but it is also super inspiring being in a race alongside her,” said Hawley, who reflected on triathlon and sport itself being ingrained within the Bermuda community.

“It’s incredible to have had someone like Flora to look up to. She’s such an inspiration to me and I can see that with the younger children as well. You just to have to look around and see that the [national] stadium is named after Flora and Corkscrew Hill is now Flora Duffy Hill.

“Sport just seems to be part of the island and the community in Bermuda, and that is really special. I also think everyone recognises how big triathlon is, which is amazing.”

Race time for the women on Sunday is 2pm.

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Published November 05, 2022 at 8:18 am (Updated November 05, 2022 at 5:33 pm)

From the stands to the start line: Erica Hawley buzzing for WTCS Bermuda debut

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